Friday, January 27, 2017

ECCLESIASTICAL COURTS or CHURCH TRIBUNALS




It may not be commonly known by many people in many places.  And while some people may somehow know the actual and operative existence of Ecclesiastical Tribunals in the Church – the Church in the Country well-included – much more in number are those who in all probability do not even know the what, the why, and the how about the said Tribunals.  For a start, it might be good to point out the historical facts that civil/criminal Courts such as the Courts of First Instance, Courts of Appeals and the Supreme Courts tasked to resolve administrative and downright judicial litigations – all these have their origin in the Latin Justice System which in essence has been long since adopted and applied, by the universal Catholic Church in Canonical Trials for the search of truth, for the application of justice, the recognition of rights, the imposition of penalties.  It is then understandable that even Civil Law/Civil Lawyers have and use a good number of Latin phrases when they author or cite Jurisprudence in Civil/Criminal Cases, when they appear before secular trial Courts for the resolution of Cases thereto processed.

As far as Church Courts or Tribunals are concerned all over the world, it is good to know or take note of the following more important realities relevant to their operative existence.  The Church has a Code of Canon Law which is the embodiment of seven Books with their respective normative provisions about definite and defined concerns of the Universal Church.  The very last Book thereof (Book VII) under the title of Processes is divided into two categories, viz., the Contentious Process on the matter of determining the rights and obligations of the parties or institutions concerned plus the Penal Process on the imposition of or the exoneration from ecclesiastical penalties – be these temporary or permanent in duration, be it simply local or actually universal in extent.  But in any of the said two sets of Processes, the said Book VII contains specific and concrete procedural steps on how to properly go about in the handling and resolving of Cases from beginning to end.

All the above observations are but meant to state the following primary intentions – specifically in conjunction with Clerics, viz., Deacons, Priests, and Bishops who can be made Archbishops and Cardinals even:  First, they have three basic rights, viz., the right to have food to stay alive and continue their ministry, the right to have medicines when sick and the right to be properly buried when dead.  Second, they have thirty basic obligations – too many to be herein mentioned – one of which is quite known, continence (purity) joined to celibacy (singleness).  Third, they undergo the Penal Process specially when they violate the said fundamental obligations to live in purity and to remain single for life.

Question:  Why all the above submissions and observations?

Answer:  Because there is this or that individual who believes he is an exemplar of integrity, the incarnation of righteousness, the paragon of rectitude such that he hates the Church and despises Churchmen for the latter’s alleged amorality, depravity, etc., etc.  It  might help the individual concerned – which is wishful thinking – to know that the Church has the above built-in judicial system that disciplines erring Clerics.  For certain, the Church has maternal love and concern.  Hence the title “Holy Mother the Church.  But a Consentidora, She is not.  Otherwise, the Code of Canon Law would be pure garbage.